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Last Updated: Monday, 27 June 2005, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Juiced game not up to speed
By Phil Elliott
BBC Radio Five Live

If you are a fan of The Fast and the Furious film, or if you have played a Need for Speed or Midnight Club title before, you will already know what the street-racing phenomenon is.

Screenshot of Juiced
Cars can be customised with decals and souped up
Essentially it is all about souping-up cars and then racing them on streets.

We are not just talking about Vauxhall Novas here though, but also the kinds of vehicle you will see in the UK probably only on the import scene.

And it is as much about the accessories as it is engine performance, such as alloy wheels, decals and neon lights under the car. It could all be right out of MTV's Pimp My Ride.

Thankfully you get to do all of that kind of thing in THQ's latest offering Juiced.

Average ride

The basic aim of the game is to race through the city streets in a series of organised races with the aim not just of winning the race, but also winning bets you may have laid against the other crews.

As you win, you accumulate cash, which can then buy better cars, which you then soup-up in order to win more races and more money, and so on.

It is all rather familiar and works as well as most other career-style racing games.

Screenshot of Juiced
Format: PC, PS2 (tested), Xbox
Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 5
Enduring appeal: 7
Overall: 6.5
The problem is that for a racing game, the driving experience in Juiced is not that exciting.

The handling is unremarkable, and firmly of the arcade type, as opposed to the simulation of say Gran Turismo.

There is nothing particularly terrible about it. It is just that it does not represent too much of a challenge.

A big part of the game is car customisation so it is frustrating that you cannot really feel any difference in handling after souping up your vehicle.

On the plus side, it is actually not easy to get hold of too much cash, as any damage your vehicle takes will cost money to repair.

Later on there are some pretty hefty entrance fees for races as well, and it all means that when you do get money, you have to spend it wisely. That at least keeps you honest, and adds to the long-term enjoyment.

Round and round

The races themselves can become a bit repetitive in style, although one nice touch is the team aspect which I have not seen before.

You can hire other drivers to race for your crew, which might mean taking your place on occasion, but more likely being team-mates in the same race.

Yet that too becomes repetitive as you are required to sit through all of the races, even the ones you are not actually driving in.

There are other driving modes included, as usual - full-on arcade and even online versions - though they too suffer from the same lack of any real interest that the career mode does.

It does not help that the graphics and sound, with the exception of some good music tracks, are not much above average.

Unless you are a hardcore fan of the genre, you would probably be better off getting the latest Need for Speed or Midnight Club title, as they both do the same thing as Juiced, only better.

Even the car customisation in Forza Motorsport is more satisfying, and that is a proper racing game.

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